Charity car rally from Witney to France in £120,000 bonanza

The rally from Witney to its twin town Le Touquet      Pictures: Simon Williams/OX68857Mark Hemsworth

The rally from Witney to its twin town Le Touquet Pictures: Simon Williams/OX68857Mark Hemsworth Buy this photo

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering North Oxford, Jericho and Summertown. Call me on 01865 425498

A CAR rally from Witney to its French twin town Le Touquet raised £120,000 for charity, organisers have confirmed.

The Twin Town Challenge saw 50 teams drive the route in cars worth £500 or less to raise money for Charlbury-based organisation SpecialEffect, which adapts video games systems for people with disabilities.

On the way, drivers visited race tracks and completed Top Gear-inspired tasks.

Event organiser Brendon Cross, managing director of telecoms company STL Communications, said: “It seems absolutely bonkers really. We originally set out to raise £50,000 when we had just 25 cars signed up, then that went up to £70,000 when we signed up 50. And we revised that up again to £100,000 after an auction.

“But we have been completely bowled over by the generosity of everyone involved. It has just been fantastic.”

Mr Cross, below, said a celebratory premiere of a film made about the event would be screened in Witney’s Cineworld complex on September 4 at 7pm, with a “VIP champagne reception” at High Street restaurant the Blue Boar afterwards. The special guests have not yet been confirmed.

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The Twin Town Challenge, which took place in May, attracted sponsors from around Oxfordshire including Wychwood Brewery, STL Communications, Gamma, Brethertons and others.

Money was raised through corporate sponsorship and the £995 entry fee each team paid to take part, as well as from an auction of about 20 of the participating cars afterwards, which raised another £9,000. And a final push of some £20,000 brought the total to its latest milestone, mainly thanks to the sale of the remaining cars, as well as private donations.

The charity relies entirely on charitable donations but has recently started facing international demand after videos it posted of the work it had done to help people were seen by thousands of internet users on YouTube.

Chief executive Dr Mick Donegan told the Oxford Mail in June that the charity now helps 12 times as many people as when he founded it in 2007. In the last year alone it has helped 600.

SpecialEffect spokesman Nick Streeter said the money had already helped the charity to expand its office space and buy new equipment.

He said: “We are absolutely delighted with this success. The money raised will help us meet the growing need for our services to people with disabilities locally and further afield – people who, without our help, could potentially feel isolated and lacking in mental stimulation.

“We may still be considered a small charity, but we are fortunate to be supported by people with very big hearts and an incredible passion for what we do.”

The next Twin Town Challenge, which Mr Cross will announce in September, has already been pencilled in for May 27 to 30, in 2016.

 

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